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OSF honors Juneteenth with reading of classic August Wilson play

Day commemorates historic Texas announcement of the abolition of slavery
 Posted: 2:00 AM June 22, 2013

August Wilson's "Radio Golf" will be read June 24 as part of the Juneteenth Celebration at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland.

The reading, at 7 p.m. Monday, June 24, is a fundraiser for Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, Minnesota. The reading will be in the Angus Bowmer Theatre.

Admission to the reading is by donation. Seats may be reserved for $15 by calling the Box Office at 541-482-4331 or going online at Checks should be made out to Penumbra Theatre Company. No cash or credit cards will be accepted.

In 2012, because of an income shortfall, Penumbra Theatre Company, one of the largest African-American theater companies in the United States, suspended its fall programming. In addition, its 2013 budget was reduced by $800,000, and the theater cut six full-time staff positions. The theater was able to reopen its doors in 2013 after the suspension in part because of a national fundraising effort.

Lou Bellamy, founder and artistic director of Penumbra, is director of this season's OSF production of Wilson's "Two Trains Running."

Wilson's final play, "Radio Golf," was written during the final months of his life. In 2005, before the play was to open in Los Angeles, he was diagnosed with a terminal illness.

The play focuses on a successful entrepreneur, Harmon Wilkes, who aspires to become the city's first black mayor. But he becomes entangled in a development project that would destroy a historic piece of his city.

The reading will be directed by Donya K. Washington. The cast features Rodney Gardiner as Harmon Wilkes, Christina Acosta Robinson as Meme Wilkes, Jerome Preston Bates as Roosevelt Hicks, Ken Robinson as Sterling Johnson and Terry Bellamy as Elder Joseph Barlow. Bakesta King is providing stage directions.

OSF's Juneteenth Celebration, a free event, will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. on the Courtyard Stage. The live performance will showcase the lives of pioneering black women.

Juneteenth was first celebrated 15 years ago as an OSF event. It commemorates the announcement by Union troops in Texas on June 19, 1865, of the abolition of slavery, 21/2; years after the effective date of the Emancipation Proclamation.

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